MARCH 21, 2021
“The prevalence, and pervasiveness, of racial discrimination might make the situation look hopeless, but we remain hopeful. Let us expose the racism and racial discrimination endemic to every society, around the globe. Let us press forward, to root out that discrimination and remove the rot from our foundations. And on this day dedicated to ending racial discrimination, let us leave our children a less hateful, more hopeful world.”
— U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Combating systemic racism requires aggressive action to address structures, policies, and practices that contribute to the wealth gap, to health disparities, and to inequalities in educational access, outcomes, and beyond. Today, on the occasion of the United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the United States reiterates its determination to address these challenges at home and abroad, and to make clear to the world that nations with genuine devotion to human rights and equality do not conceal their own failings – they confront them honestly, transparently, and with a determination to make things right.
Here is what the administration is doing to address systemic racism:
Advancing Racial Equity in the Federal Government: On Day 1 of this administration, the President issued Executive Order (EO) 13985 which established that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all and creating opportunities for the improvement of communities that have been historically underserved.
Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Community: On January 26, President Biden issued a Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The memorandum orders executive departments and agencies to take all appropriate steps to ensure that official actions, documents, and statements, including those that pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic, do not exhibit or contribute to racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Assessing Domestic Violent Extremism: President Biden directed the U.S. government interagency to study the threat of domestic violent extremism in the United States. Earlier this week, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the unclassified executive summary of the comprehensive assessment acknowledging that domestic violent extremist motivations include biases against minority populations.
Creating a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) at the State Department: Secretary of State Blinken created the position of a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) at the State Department, in recognition of the crucial role diversity, equity, and inclusion can and should play in U.S. foreign policy. Reporting directly to the Secretary, the CDIO will align and advance Diversity and Inclusion policies across the department, bring transparency to these initiatives, and hold senior leadership accountable on progress.
Incorporating Racial Justice into U.S. Foreign Policy Goals: Addressing systemic racism and strengthening democracy in the United States is a critical part of President Biden’s foreign policy vision. The Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees describing initiatives that address racial and ethnic discrimination abroad, to include a list of Department efforts that explicitly focus on addressing racial and ethnic prejudice and discriminations, funding for civil society grants and Embassy programs and initiatives, exchange and leadership programs, and related efforts. This includes State Department programming through the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Supporting Historically Marginalized Populations Around the World: Globally, the United States supports organizations to empower racial and ethnic minority communities, and uphold the dignity of people who are systematically denied their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Programs support locally-led efforts to combat all types of racial and ethnic hatred and violence and facilitate access to justice for victims of racism. Initiatives are intersectional and support individuals who face discrimination on account of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, race or ethnicity, religion, and national origin.
Calling for Action at the UN Human Rights Council: At the UN Human Rights Council, more than 140 nations joined the United States in a statement outlining the continuing scourge of racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance. This historic cross-regional statement is a call to action for all nations to:
- acknowledge and address the legacy and persistence of systemic racism
- review and revise long-standing practices and policies to ensure all individuals are treated equally
- embed fairness and inclusivity in decision-making processes
- redress inequities in policies that serve as barriers to equal opportunity
- eliminate barriers to political participation
Nominating a U.S. Representative to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: The United States nominated Professor Gay McDougall to serve on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties. Her nomination underscores the value that the Biden administration places on the Committee’s work and her election would end our nearly three-year long losing streak for full-term seats in UN human rights treaty bodies.